PM defends Swedish justice after Assange lawyer claims

8th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Tuesday said the description of Sweden's judiciary system presented by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's defence lawyers was untrue.

"It is unfortunate. We have an independent judiciary," Reinfeldt told reporters at parliament.

On the first day of a hearing in London Monday on whether Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and molestation, his lawyer Geoffrey Robertson blasted the Swedish handling of rape cases, saying his client's human rights would be violated in the Scandinavian country.

"The Swedish custom and practice of throwing the press and public out of court when rape trials begin is one that we say is blatantly unfair, not only by British standards but also by European standards," Robertson said.

Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny wants to question Assange over allegations he raped one woman and sexually molested another in the country -- moves which he claims are politically motivated because of WikiLeaks' activities in releasing classified US cables.

Reinfeldt said Tuesday "it is unfortunate that women's rights and standpoint is taken so lightly when it comes to this kind of question compared to other types of theories presented."

"I can only defend what everyone in Sweden already knows: that we have an independent, non-coerced judiciary," he was quoted by the TT news agency as saying.

Reinfeldt rejected the notion that Assange's human rights would be violated in a Swedish rape trial.

"Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing you hear when (a lawyer) trying to defend a client gives a condescending description of other country's legal systems," he said.

"But everyone living in Sweden knows that is not in line with the truth."

© 2011 AFP

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